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Author Notes: This is actually more a hybrid of sauce and jam because 1) I don't love pectin, and 2) I felt this flavor combo just begged to be spooned over cheese (goat, cream, or Brie, for example), waffles, a cheesecake or into yogurt. You could very easily add an envelope of liquid pectin if you'd prefer that it firm up! —em-i-lis
Makes 4¼ half-pints
- 8 cups washed, stemmed and pitted sour cherries and their juices
- 3¾ cups unrefined, granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 fresh orange wedge
- ½ - ¾ teaspoons best-quality, very aged Balsamic vinegar (you really want this to be like syrup because of the taste imparted)
- 1 packet liquid pectin, optional
- Set a water bath canner full of water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Get four half-pint jars and a quarter pint jar and when the water is boiling, submerge the jars in it. Throw in the lids about five minutes before your jam is ready.
- While the water comes to a boil, toss together the cherries, juices and sugar in a canning pot or large, heavy, non-reactive pot. Set over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. When you've got an active boil going, stir in the pepper and squeeze in the juice from the orange wedge.
- Keep the jam at a rapid boil, stirring regularly and mashing some of the cherries against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon or with a potato masher. I prefer to pace my jam's progress with my Thermapen so if you have one, or a good candy thermometer or the like, start checking the jam's temp at regular intervals. This should hover around 221° F when all is said and done. When you've reached about 216°, stir in the Balsamic vinegar. It's flavor will mellow some as the jam cools and sets, so unless you are totally overwhelmed at 1/2 teaspoon, add the full 3/4.
- After adding the vinegar, add the liquid pectin if you're planning to do so. Return the jam to a boil after stirring in the pectin and let boil for at least five minutes or until you've reached 221°. At that point, you can ladle the jam carefully into your sterilized jars, apply the lids and bands carefully, and then process in your water bath canner for 10 minutes. Then remove them and let cool completely.
- You can store your sealed jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.